Vanity Fair’s Not So Relatable Special Edition Issue

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This “special edition” magazine was created by GQ, the New Yorker, Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair and published on August 18, 2015. The issue of this magazine features a bunch of transgender women and some transgender men. There are a ton of different pieces on transitioning, the struggles of being transgender, gender identity and expression, even the murder of Brandon Teena (which the movie “Boys Don’t Cry” is based off of), and many more things. It is interesting insight from each writer and their article. This issue was making an effort to help people understand the lives of transgender people.

Now, what makes this “special edition” so special? Well as people who are familiar with the transgender community, it should be known that there isn’t much transgender representation in popular media. Although the representation has increased in recent years, it is still not where it “should” be. GQ, the New Yorker, Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair are all really big magazines and the representation that was given here was much appreciated. Yes this issue has some flaws, which I plan to talk about later in this piece, but any attempt to teach cisgender people things about life as a transgender person is very much appreciated by the community. One of the pieces is about a transgender boy named Skylar. The piece, About A Boy, talks about Skylar’s social/internal transition (his feeling like he wasn’t a girl when he was younger) as well as his medical transition. This is what makes this edition so special.

How does this relate to our class? Today we were talking about Caitlyn Jenner’s ability to relate to the average transgender person or lack thereof. This whole magazine is full of transgender people most of us other transfolk cannot relate to. Laverne Cox is the only one that has a relatable story behind her. Now, back to the not relatable people. Each transgender person has a different level of difficulty to relate to. The ones on the “maybe some can relate to” side are Jazz and Skylar. It is difficult to relate to both of them because most transgender children, teens, and even adults struggle with families not accepting that. That’s just how it goes. Also, unlike Jazz, most transgender children don’t have a reality television show. Just saying.

Then on the far side that is “this is not relatable whatsoever to 99% of the transgender community” set of folks. The main person in that category would be Caitlyn Jenner. Really, how many transgender people come out and in less than 6 months look flawless in the body they’re supposed to be in? Not many. Most transgender people are in a lower socio-economic class because there is nothing protecting them in the workplace. Inside the magazine on one of the first five pages it says, “90% of transgender people have faced disrespect, discrimination, or violence in some critical aspect of their life including in employment, housing, and healthcare simply for being who they are”. That really does make it hard to relate to her and to get the “Caitlyn Jenner effect” of transitioning quickly and flawlessly. With that said, however, each transgender person is somewhat relatable. This is only because they all have the struggle and pain of being born in the wrong body. I am not trying to undermine anybody’s struggle; it’s just that, in the words of Nicky Nichols from Orange is the New Black, “some shit stinks worse than other shit”.

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